When folks join gangs, the will commonly get the gang’s symbols and/or slogans. Gangsters walk around branded on their arms, chests, torsos, backs and even faces. This presents a dilemma when a gang member gets a change of heart and decides to leave that life behind. Even if they are no longer active in the gang, they will forever be viewed as one due to these tats that they wore with pride before. The Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office (PBSO) saw this problem for individuals and proactively implemented a tattoo removal program for reformed gangsters.
Everyday activities became unclearable hurdles for former inmate Christoper Sharpe. “I couldn’t get a job, walked in a Publix and everyone gave me dirty looks,” he told WPTV NBC 5. “People will read you by what you look like, initially if you look like a criminal, they’re going to treat you like a criminal.” The PBSO’s tattoo removal program offered Sharpe a new lease on life.
For the program, the PBSO has teamed up with dermatologist Dr. Brent Schillinger, through the Palm Beach County Medical Society. In order to get the procedure done, candidates have to fill out an application, pen a one-page essay on why they want change, complete 50 hours of community service and interview with a gang detective. “We can really change someone’s life tremendously because we can get rid of the tattoo with literally no scar, no evidence that there was ever a tattoo there,” said Dr. Schillinger.
Thanks to this revolutionary new program, after a few laser tattoo removal sessions, Sharpe is now free of all the tattoos he had on his face and his arms are almost done. Though he admitted that the removal procedure is more painful than actually getting tattooed, Sharpe says he doesn’t get judged anymore. He plans on re-enrolling into college. “It’s changed my life around,” he said.
For info on how to apply, contact Marcia Bahia by phone at 561-688-4002 or by email at bahiam@.